The Resource Center, accessed via the APhA website, will help educate pharmacists by identifying learning opportunities, highlighting clinical and patient resources, and identifying tools that can be used when working with patients prescribed opioids.
“APhA is committed to combating the opioid crisis in America but acknowledges the importance of patients’ legitimate access to opioids,” Jenna Ventresca, APhA associate director for health policy and site administrator for the Resource Center, said in a statement. “We do this through thought leadership on shaping public policy and by identifying tools to help foster the pharmacist-patient relationship.”
Resources available to pharmacists include the following:
• Training and webinars on abuse-deterrent formulations, care of patients with addiction and the role of pharmacy in opioid therapeutics.
• Guidelines and resources to help pharmacists improve their decision making, including information on clinical guidelines for the use of buprenorphine, warning signs related to prescribing and dispensing controlled substances, and medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.
• Engagement opportunities where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can connect with other health care professionals through conferences, mentoring programs and special interest groups.
• Interactive tools and recent publications that can be used regularly or referenced to help pharmacists treat patients using opioids. Among the tools are a buprenorphine treatment physician locator and a Medicare Part D opioid mapping tool.
• Federal and state resources related to opioids, such as the White House’s Office of National Drug Policy strategy, pharmacist efforts to combat opioid abuse and misuse, and state prescription drug monitoring programs.
• Articles and research on trends in prescription drug abuse, the effectiveness and risks of opioid treatment, abuse-deterrent formulations, buprenorphine and more.
Last year, APhA had pledged to launch the Resource Center as part of the Obama Administration’s effort to curb the prescription drug and heroin crisis.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that opioid dependence affects nearly 5 million Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014 there were 47,000 drug overdose fatalities in the United States, with almost 29,000 or 61% involving opioids.
Though drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., APhA noted that many patients have a legitimate need for these medications and use them properly.
“The Resource Center has been developed to provide a balanced approach to pain management,” Ventresca added. “APhA is keenly aware that millions of patients have legitimate reasons to have access to controlled substances. The Resource Center helps empower pharmacists to take steps to minimize misuse and abuse.”